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Lily Halfmoon (series)

Lily Halfmoon (series)

Lily Halfmoon (series)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lily Halfmoon (series)

The Magic Gems 

9781761180354

The Witches’ Council

9781761069727

Xavier Bonet, translated by Marie Trinchan

A&U Children’s, 2024

80pp., graphic novel, RRP $A17.99

Nine-year-old Lily Halfmoon has just moved to the town of Piedraville. New house, new school and … new powers?

Surprise – Lily is a witch! She must learn magic, and find her animal guardian and gemstone, while keeping her new identity a secret. Not even her family can know.

Protecting the people of Piedraville from evil is no easy task. Especially when a dangerous creature is on the loose. Will Lily finally discover her gem’s unique power with the help of her new friends, Gigi and Mai, all without attracting attention? But a mysterious person is after her rare moonstone, and if they get their hands on it, it could threaten everything Lily holds dear. Will Lily have the strength to fight for what she believes?

The concept of ordinary children discovering magical powers as they become more independent, having to find their particular protective talismans and staving off those who want them is becoming a familiar trope in literature for the emerging reader, but nevertheless, as the enduring popularity of Harry Potter demonstrates, it is one that remains popular and with a constant stream of newly independent readers emerging, discovering it, it will continue to fascinate.   

So with its familiar themes, what sets this series apart?  Firstly, it is in graphic novel format so the reader has to be able to cope with that format, although this one has more dialogue to carry the story than others, the panels track left to right in a logical sequence and it is in regular font, rather than all capitals, making its appearance more familiar, as well as ‘regular’ pages that add more information and background – so, all in all, making it a solid introduction to this popular format. It also has potential to become a sought-after series, as in The Magic Gems, as well as the plot and premise being introduced, the characters and their relationships are established setting the platform for any number of adventures to come, particularly given the cliffhanger ending..  

 

Wurrtoo: The Wombat Who Fell in Love with the Sky

Wurrtoo: The Wombat Who Fell in Love with the Sky

Wurrtoo: The Wombat Who Fell in Love with the Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wurrtoo: The Wombat Who Fell in Love with the Sky

Tylissa Elisara

Dylan Finney

Lothian, 2024

185pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99

9780734421982

In the fifty-fifth burrow of Bushland Avenue in a beautiful clearing on Kangaroo Island where the arching gum trees kiss, is the home of Wurtoo, the hariy-nosed wombat. His is the one at the end with the big red trapdoor and large gold doorknob and a myriad of tunnels because he loves to extend it, so much so that it can take awhile for him to get to his front door. It even has a library where he has just four books that he cherishes – a book of fairytales that has taught him all about love; a plant encyclopedia that told him where to find his favourite muntrie berries and wattleseeds;  a cookbook which helps him make them into something delicious, and a fourth, his favourite, which had stories as old as time and in particular, a map of a most sacred place, the Forest of Dreaming. And it fuelled his dream to follow the map across the water to the mainland, climb the ancient tree to the heavens, and marry the love of his life, the sky.

But first, he needs to find the courage because right now, he can barely leave the burrow without his nerves getting the better of him, because having led such a solitary life, the thought of meeting other creatures terrified him. And so , despite being nocturnal by nature, he chooses to go out in the daytime so he can be unseen, and each day he makes a pilgrimage to the lighthouse for a picnic.Little does he know, that on this particular day his life will change forever because he inadvertently saves Kuula the koala from a bushfire, and acquires the adventure companion he didn’t know he needed.

With Kuula by his side, Wurrtoo finds the courage to leave the safety of his burrow and sets out on an epic journey to cross the island, reach the mainland and climb to the top of tallest tree in the Forest of Dreaming. But it’s fire season, and danger and strange creatures lurk behind every gum tree. To make it, the pair must face their fears together, learn the importance of friendship and discover the power of wombat wishes.

Described as an “Indigenous Blinky Bill meets Winnie the Pooh”, this heartwarming and beautifully illustrated novel for independent readers by the 2021 black&write! fellow Tylissa Elisara, and it is worth reading for the power of the descriptions of the landscape alone.  Immediately, the reader is transported into Wurtoo’s world, akin to Tolkien’s description of the home of Bilbo Baggins, and relate to his ambitions, desires and fears.  It is one for those readers who love adventures and quests, and with traditional First Nation stories, knowledge, food and culture woven seamlessly into the tale, it becomes one that not only engages and entertains, but helps the non-indigenous reader better understand that incredible connection to Country that exists for those who are.

There is also the underlying universal theme of building trust, facing your fears, accepting those you meet for who they are, so friendships are built on similarities rather than differences, that will speak to many readers, perhaps encouraging them to think that if Wurrtoo can do this, so can they.  

For me, the mark of a story that works, is hearing myself read it aloud to a class of students, and this one is one of those rare ones.  So with teachers’ notes available to enhance and enrich the experience, this is definitely recommended as a read-aloud for Years 3-4.  Something different, inspiring and Australian.

Stacey Casey and the Lost City

Stacey Casey and the Lost City

Stacey Casey and the Lost City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stacey Casey and the Lost City

Michael C. Madden

Nancy Bevington

Big Sky, 2024

164pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99

9781922896667

Stacey Casey’s father is a terrible inventor. But now, despite years of failed inventions, he has created a functioning time machine.  But instead of sending him back in time, he turns their entire house into a time machine, transporting everyone and everything in it back into history, although they still have access to parts of 2022 like mobile phones and the internet.

In this, the third episode, while Stacey, her dad and the baby dinosaur have escaped back to 2022 after robbing a bank with Ned Kelly, Oliver was captured by the evil Isla Palmer. But now he has turned up at their home but as an old man…  Travelling back to 1964 to rescue him, and to stop an evil woman from stealing a powerful artifact and taking over the world, Stacey and her friends  take on a dangerous quest that takes them to a place outside of all time and space as they team up with the world’s most famous philosopher, Plato, to explore the lost city of Atlantis. And somehow, they have a dinosaur to return to its mum…

This is a series best read in order so there is continuity of the narrative but it is one that will appeal to those who prefer to go back in time rather than forward for their reading matter.  Atlantis, a mythical island in the Atlantic Ocean born in the imagination of Plato has always held intrigue for many, and this story may even inspire young readers to delve deeper into its origins, opening up new reading horizons.

Rainbowsaurus

Rainbowsaurus

Rainbowsaurus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbowsaurus

Steve Antony

Hodder Children’s, 2024

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99

9781444964516

We’re following a rainbow to find the Rainbowsaurus.
We’re following a rainbow. Would you like to join us?

Two dads and their three children  set off on an adventure to find the Rainbowsaurus. On their way, they meet animals that are all the colours of the rainbow who all want to find the Rainbowsaurus, too.

This is a fun read for little ones as they join the quest with its crazy collection of creatures, all different colours and lots of opportunities to join in with the noises and actions as they seek the Rainbowsaurus.  And if that isn’t enough there is always the song to sing as it has been set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Music, movement, colour and a dinosaur – what’s not to love?  Especially if the young reader is invited to be a creature and colour of their choosing and really join in! 

 

The Goblins’ Revenge

The Goblins' Revenge

The Goblins’ Revenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goblins’ Revenge

Andy Prentice

Tom Knight

Usborne, 2024

288pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99

9781803706467

For 93 years the land of Sibele has been ruled by the evil wizard Darkmoon, and now he is hunting down the last few rebels who dare to oppose him, and the only one who can save them and end his reign is the reader. With a horde of undead warriors on the trail and a series of blood-curdling dangers ahead , it would be a terrifying task for anyone – but you’re just a goblin, which makes things even more challenging. Confronted by menacing monsters, ghostly magic and a thrilling race against time in this spectacular fantasy adventure gamebook, the reader becomes the hero whose decisions and choices determine the outcome.  

Decades ago the choose-your-own adventure genre hit the shelves and were an instant success with those who like to insert and immerse themselves in the stories, and this 21st century version combines that genre with the gaming craze, combining three loves of the current generation – video games, fantasy and a story in print which becomes a new adventure with every choice made. 

It begins with instructions on how to play complete with items, weapons and abilities, a logbook to keep track of the relevant details of the quest as  well as all the other things needed to play a game and complete a quest in this modern era.  There are crucial picture puzzles to solve along the way, and although a computer is not needed to play, there are links to an online dice roller if physical dice (needed to play the combat system) aren’t available as well as a printable logbook.

I am the first to admit that this is not my sort of game and my granddaughters gave up in frustration as they tried to teach me some of theirs, but nevertheless, this seems to be something that teacher librarians should be aware of so they can capture the imagination and minds of those engaged by this sort of activity, thus demonstrating that the library has resources that are relevant to them. In fact, while the publisher suggests this is suitable for 9+, it could be one to give to your gamers for feedback on suitability both for reading /comprehension age as well as future releases in the series.  

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Leif the Unlucky Viking

Leif the Unlucky Viking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leif the Unlucky Viking: Saga of the Shooting Star

Gary Northfield

Walker Books, 2023

320pp., pbk., ill., RRP $A17.99

9781406383416

Leif the wolf cub dreams of being a Viking explorer just like his dad, Erik the Red, but it’s tricky when you are smaller than most, clumsy and falls over his own paws a lot, and regularly split your pants. But he is an embarrassment to his family, hidden away when this father’s exploits are celebrated and almost despised by his older sister Freydis because regardless of his shortcomings, he is the heir to the throne of his father.

But he is undeterred by his misfortunes, and determined to prove his worth, he embarks on a secret mission to locate a missing shard from Thor’s hammer, the weapon of the Norse god of Thunder, which has landed far away in polar bear territory.  Armed with a map of the route and a magic cloak given to him by Thorbjorg the Witch, who believes he is destined for greatness, he sets off on his quest, accompanied by fellow adventurers Olaf the cranky duck, Toki the silly puffin and Flora the stinky musk ox. As they attempt to navigate across vast, dangerous lands, they must contend with hungry giants, fearsome polar bears and a sea beast as old as the gods themselves.

A step up from Murray the Viking in complexity, this would be an ideal next read for those emerging independent readers who love adventure, wacky characters and historical fiction, particularly the time of the Vikings.  With humour and the sort of craziness that many kids adore, this is original, engaging and something different to underline the value of determination, perseverance and not giving up. It introduces readers to some of the magical Norse mythology on which so many stories are based that may take their reading interests into new realms, but, above all, it is just a thoroughly good read. 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Amazing Australian Camping Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99

9781760654948

Having completed their Amazing Australian Road Trip, now the family is off on a camping adventure because Aunty wants to paint “a fantastical beast”.

“It eats like a fish and swims in the lakes, has fur like a dog and venom like snakes, with a bill like a duck, it also lays eggs, has a tail like a paddle and walks on four legs.”

With the 4WD loaded to the hilt and beyond, they head to country to find this amazing creature, finally setting up camp and starting to relax. And although there is lots of wildlife to discover, each with one of the attributes that Aunty has described, none has them all.  What could she be looking for?

As with its predecessor, this is a story that rollicks along in rhyme accompanied by eye-catching illustrations full of detail and humour including the mysterious animal hiding on each page waiting for the eagle-eye to spot…  While many readers will be familiar with camping, and understand the terminology as well as recognising the creatures that the family spot, for those for whom the Australian bush is a mystery there are lots of explanations of unfamiliar words as well as information about the various animals. And, also like its predecessor, it offers a lot of potential for investigation, not the least of which is the meaning and purpose of a glossary.

As summer holidays fade into the distance, this is one that will bring back so many memories for children who spent their time camping “out bush” as they giggle their way through familiar scenes and adventures – although I was a bit concerned that the copperhead snake that inhabits the cool climate region I live in is active at night – and begin to look forward to the next one. 

Loving this series which brings our country to life in such a fun way. 

 

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Three Tasks for a Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Tasks for a Dragon

Eoin Colfer

P. J. Lynch

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99

9781529505825

After his father’s ‘accidental’ death at sea, his stepmother Queen Nimh and stepbrother Prince Delbayne invoke ancient Lagin law that only those who can summon the mysterious wolfhounds can become king, and Prince Lir is to be banished from his beloved homeland forever. The prince is a scholar not a warrior and acquiesces to his fate, but in an apparent act of generosity, Prince Delbayne pleads his stepbrother’s case and it is agreed that if Prince Lir can complete an ancient quest he will be able to return. 

Thus Prince Lir finds himself on a mission to rescue a young maiden being held captive by the dragon Lasvarg on his island, not realising that it is all part of a devious, malicious plan and dark magic concocted by his not-so-nice brother to ensure that Lir never returns to assume his place on the throne… But then, Delbayne does not realise that brains can overcome brawn… 

Created by two who have each been the Irish children’s laureate, this is a story reminiscent of the quests of old, drawing the reader into the fantasy of kings and queens and dragons and maidens needing to be rescued  with its twists and turns in the plot while its superb illustrations bring times gone by to life.  You can almost envisage this as a Lord of the Rings-esque movie, and while it has the traditional good versus evil as its underlying theme, because Prince Lir keeps his father’s words “The trick to it… is to work with what is around you,” it has a refreshing new perspective because rather than trying to trick the dragon and kill it to save Cethlenn, Lir uses his brains to cure the dragon’s ailments caused by the mould in his damp cave, mend his broken wing, and restore his fire-breathing powers,

, forming a partnership that eventually outwits and outlasts Nimh, Delbayne and even Lagin itself..

This is an illustrated novella that would make an ideal introduction to this genre as a read-aloud merging the traditional elements and feel of the classic quest with more modern themes.  

 

Temora and the Wordsnatcher

Temora and the Wordsnatcher

Temora and the Wordsnatcher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Temora and the Wordsnatcher

Kate Gordon

Wombat Books, 2023

300pp., pbk., RRP $A19.99

9781761110122

Temora Murphy is eleven years old. She lives in a world where she never really fits. The other girls make fun of her. She’s not the “right” sort of girl for anyone – least of all her mother. On the candles of her birthday cake, she wishes for escape. Like magic, in a black pearl box at the bottom of her garden, books begin to appear. The books help her to leave her world and find another where she belongs.

On her twelfth birthday, Temora makes another wish, a wish that alters her life forever. Temora Tempest is welcomed into a world within a book, where everyone else has been waiting for her. But when some of the other apprentices fall victim to a magical disease that could only be caused by one person – a monster thought long dead – Temora realises that there can be darkness in every story. And that it might be her job to save everyone.

Described by the publisher as “a literary children’s story; a portal fantasy work, featuring a diverse cast of characters and a protagonist who marches to the beat of her own drum” this is a story for all those girls like my now-Ms 17 who go through primary school more in touch with the characters in stories than the luminaries of social media and who can not only transport themselves deep into a story but have a solid conversation as though they were a real part of it. Although S grew up in a loving family with a loving mother, and did not have the same adventures as Temora, she certainly had the confidence to march to the beat of her own drum because of her reading (and still does), and would have loved this book when she was in her late primary years. 

A complex read for independent readers who would like to find themselves in their favourite stories  it is one to snuggle up with on cold winter nights, particularly as the next in this Wordspinner series – Temora and the Dreamers – will be out in September. 

A Girl Called Corpse

A Girl Called Corpse

A Girl Called Corpse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Girl Called Corpse

Reece Carter

Simon Howe

Allen & Unwin, 2022

352pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99

9781761066788

Find the thing the Witches call a treasure,’ says Old Man, ‘and you’ll get back all those memories you’re missing.’

With a body made of wax, seaweed for hair and polished abalone shells for eyes, Corpse is bound to haunt the Witches’ sea shack forever. She has no memory of the kid she was before she was snatched and ended up on the rock-that-doesn’t-exist, using magic to hold herself together so she doesn’t cross over the Death Proper. Her dearest wish is to escape the rock, find her family and live. But she appears to be bound on the rock off the coast of the tiny forgotten town of Elston-Fright forever, until the delivery of an unexpected message sets her off on a surprising quest, searching for answers to the old and familiar questions that have filled her not-brain since the day she first woke up a ghost. Questions about her name. Questions about her family. With only her eight-legged friend Simon for company, Corpse heads into the unknown. There will be danger – cruel witches, a silver-eyed sea monster and a cunning merchant with a hungry grin – but Corpse is not afraid. She’ll stop at nothing to uncover the truth about her past. Only some answers, it turns out, are much closer than she thinks.

Shortlisted for the ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children (7-12 years) this is a debut novel that has a strong message about the power of family, friendship, trust and believing  and trusting in yourself and what you stand for.  For older, independent readers who can let reality go and cope with twists and turns in the plot, this is a new series that will captivate those who like the Nevermoor series, with a sequel The Lonely Lighthouse of Elston-Fright being released in October 2023.